I've been looking around at different posts on this website, and I've begun to wonder: it seems like all of us are creating are own little unique worlds, but what of new ideas? For instance, why does it seem like fantastic/sci-fi worlds must either be perpetually stuck in medieval times or in times of interstellar technology, with nothing in between? I've been reading a lot of fantasy lately, and I keep seeing the same concepts repeated time and again--just in slightly-modified forms. The whole point of this post is my question to all of you: can you truly say that whatever world you've created is honestly unique?
March 13th, 2002, 02:10 PM
Well my stuff has no basis in medieval times really, and all who reviewed my trilogy agree that its settings are unique. It is a blend of fantasy/science fiction, but not traditional fantasy, by any stretch of the imagination.
Even my new novel, Bortag's Curse, whilst largely being set 3000 BCE, is also far removed from the traditional s & s type fantasy formula. And, you'll never find a dragon in any of my novels!
So yes, I have to believe that I have created something unique, but ultimately, it is my readers who'll decide if I've succeeded! http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif
March 13th, 2002, 03:22 PM
I was never a big fan of medieval type settings, that's the main reason it took me so long to discover fantasy. The series I'm writing now, has some elments of sword and sorcery, but the ideas and worlds I have in mind stretch far beyond dragons and castles.
In fact, I was almost timid in introducing the ideas into the story that I wanted, because I didn't know how true fantasy fans would react. (again, I'm a virgin to the genre)
You have sealed my decision, with your provocative challenge, to let my imagination run rampant. It wont be so obvious in the first couple of shorts, because I'm trying to establish characters and premise, but rest assured, it will be unique in a way, you will either have to hate it excessively or find it refreshing.
March 13th, 2002, 08:33 PM
Well, that's been a bit on my mind lately, especially now that there's so much fantasy stuff on the shelves that you can't avoid comparisons. Look at the fantasy forum-- a lot of discussion is going around on the usual authors like Jordan, Martin, Eddings, Brooks, Goodkind, but if you notice, they have the same medieval settings that's par for the course for the genre.
Of course we can move out of that sub-sector (i.e. medieval fantasy) but where do we go? Urban fantasies? Magical realism? Sci-fantasy? Surrealistic fantasy? (No, I don't know what the last is, it just sounded kewl. http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/wink.gif) It's all been visited before.
There was another thread here that talked about non-European medieval fantasy so that's another possibility. But still, where do you go if you want cutting edge? I mean, if science-fiction can do it, why not fantasy?
These thoughts challenge (and trouble) my poor brain. Hell, the very phrase, 'speculative fiction' (instead of the usual fantasy term), gives me the shivers of the impossibility in defining such an idea. Now if I can only get a brief touch of the divine to understand it...
(Sorry for the rant. You touched a raw nerve there... http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif)
[This message has been edited by estranghero (edited March 14, 2002).]
March 13th, 2002, 09:04 PM
Hm. Well, I suppose I use a medieval-like world in my writing. But it's not actually medieval; the people just have a king/qoeen and fight with swords, axes, etc. That did not happen only in the medieval ages. So I would call it more like a-world-like-Earth's-older-times. http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/wink.gif But the most important thing is that I try each land to have its own, unique culture, not based in a real world one.
Having said that, I don't use many fantasy creatures, and certainly not the usuall ones: goblins, dragons, Dark Lords, etc. The usual ones I've used are the gryphon (half-lion half-eagle) and the mermaid. But these two only appear as legends, so... Other creatures I use come from my imagination.
Also, a fantasy race (not humans) uses a kind of pseudo-technology based on cosmic crystalls; but no lazer-guns, automobiles, etc; weird stuff only. So you could say it also has some scifi elements!
In genaral, I like to experiment with the staff I write, and see what comes out of it!
Edit: The magic system is also v. important, IMO. It has not have to be the old tired stuff (fireballs, lightning, etc). I like using "magic" as an X factor in life (not a common fanctor at all, usually), that you can control/manipulate if you do the right things. So it is not really magic, but some other element that people call "magic" sometimes, for they have no better word for it.
[This message has been edited by Bardos (edited March 14, 2002).]
March 13th, 2002, 09:26 PM
I can honestly say that the Authors who inspire me the most are the ones who step out of the norm to create experiences that have a unique feel to them. Niel Gaiman, Micheal Ende, Phillip Pullman, etc. I've never been much of a Tolkien fan, end even though I like some of the Medieval, swords and sorcery kind of stories, I can't say I really want to write one myself. I've felt for a long time that Fantasy is a tad too formula ridden. I understand that business plays a major role in that, but I think there's a lot of areas that haven't been explored. So, whenever I write, I do my best to create worlds and settings that haven't already been done a thousand times. I don't see anything wrong with people who do, because, in the long run, a good story is a good story. I've read good stories that are very formulaic and traditional. And I've read good stories that threw those formulas out the window and took the genre in a totally different direction. As for me, I'm much more inspired by the latter, so I do my best to work with that in mind (even though, it is easily argued, that no matter what you come up with, it will not be genuinely original).
March 14th, 2002, 04:20 PM
I've been thinkin...
about this topic, along with my own thought process, and other authors I read, and something occured to me.
If anyone has read F. Paul Wilson's The Keep, or the rest of the six books known as The Advasary Cycle, you would have to apply the tag of fantasy to it, though the books generally get placed in horror. while some are indeed frightning beyond compare, I think the overruling aspect is adventure.
You have two main characters that represent good and evil, they have fought through countless ages, but Wilson decides to pick up during World War II... The story caries on, not chronologiclly, but just plain logically, and then ties everything together in the end with an apocoliptic finale that is a world unto itself...
I guess my question is... why is this series not considered fantasy by your general fantasy community? Answer that, and I think you answer why there is very little inbetween the two realms mentioned in Mr. Fidelles original post.
March 21st, 2002, 06:39 AM
Uh Oh! You've hit a nerve with this topic and I fear a rant coming on. Wait a sec... yep it's going to be a rant.
The mid-evil ages are undoubtably the norm in the genre of fantasy. That is to say that the worlds created in most fantasy stories bear many similarities with the time period between 500 a.d. and 1500 a.d. The most obvious similarity, and perhaps most misunderstood, being the use of swords and such as the predominant form of weaponry. Generally ending with the widespread growth of firearms. However, I think it is important
to note that swords and more specifically, metal, underwent several evolutions. Most notably bronze to iron to steel. They changed with the technology.
Which brings me to technology. TECHNOLOGICAL LEVEL PLAYS AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN A CULTURAL SETTING. The term "dark ages" is generally assigned to the period that followed the decline of the Roman empire (mid 500's). Historically, it is a very tumultuos and poorly documented time in European history. There are pronounced holes in the records. Hence "dark" ages. Europe sort of came to a technological stand still(not quite but close). The rest of the world however made some very remarkable progress. Most notably in the middle east and Asia.
My point here is that each culture had it's own unique take on the "medieval" ages. While Rome took many secrets with her, new ones still managed to come about. Here's an interesting tidbit... while Rome did not have gunpowder they did have cement that set underwater, something that was not rediscovered until the late 1800's. But I digress...
I think it is completely pheasable to give your world a unique(for lack of a better word) feel simply by screwing with the available technologies. The tech level of your world does not necessarily need to fit within our own historical precedents.
Example: it is thought by some(myself included) that had Rome endured at it's Zenith for just a little longer they would have invented the steam engine (they were really close). Now imagine what the society would be like 100 yrs after that and use it as the setting for your story. Imagine steam powered tanks BEFORE gunpowder.
ok I'm going to stop for now but know that I have more points to make such as....
1) impact of magic on technology
2) large organized cultures tend to yield more engineering and architechtural advances in technology
3) this is only 1 aspect that can be spun to give your world a unique setting.
tune in tommorrow for "Anthropological analysis"
No really ...I intend to post more. I can really rant.
[This message has been edited by kassimir funk (edited March 21, 2002).]
March 21st, 2002, 09:39 AM
individual settings can be awe inspiring. the world in which they exist does not necessarily have to be extraordinary. individual characters can be inspirational even if the race that they belong to is not unusual. i like to think that everything i read in a good fantasy series is actually possible, or was possible at some time. that helps me to imagine the 'what ifs' that make fantasy so compelling for me. i like to be able to identify with the characters and the problems, and I like to 'fantasize' - pretend, if you will, in my mind's eye - that just maybe...
March 21st, 2002, 09:43 AM
I recently read a book called Ring of Five Dragons (the title does sound a bit cheesy though) by someone called Eric van Lustbader. I thought it was very original and mixed sci-fi and fantasy quite well. It was also very readable as well as refreshing.